Monday, November 21, 2005

Smoking gun

This weekend I escaped from the electricity-challenged city of Brussels (see my "Bedlam in Brussels" posting) for a two day conference of the Libertarian Alliance held at the National Liberal Club in London. I always joke with my friends that "I always think I am a libertarian until I attend their conferences..............." but for the most part I am a libertarian but clearly not an anarcho-capitalist.

While on the Eurostar train to London I read the following front page banner headline, above the fold, in a British newspaper (Daily Telegraph) for Saturday, November 19th -

"Rookie WPC shot dead"

The story here is that two UNARMED women police officers responded to a "999 call" (911 in the USA) from a travel agency undergoing an armed robbery (Question - how much cash could be at a travel agent? Don't most trips get paid for via a credit card versus cash?) in Bradford, England. Nick Britten reported that the "raiders" (robbers) -- "......were confronted by the two unarmed officers and turned their guns on them before fleeing. It was unclear whether the officers were wearing protective clothing." The end result is that one of the officers was killed and her partner was wounded in the shoulder.

In a related article in the same newspaper, John Steele reported that -- "the majority (police officers) appears to prefer being unarmed, although the proportion who feel guns should be introduced has risen. Yesterday's murder is likely to increase the numbers in favour." Wow, quite a statement with no supporting statistics and any kind coupled with pure speculation -- where was the editor on this story??

Then on my return train from London to Brussels I read The Sunday Telegraph for November 20th (the very next day keep in mind!!) which has this headline --

"Clarke says law on tackling burglars should not change"

As an outsider looking in this was amazing timing for these two stories -- you have an unarmed police officer shot dead by thieves and the next day you have a statement from the UK Home Secretary (Americans -- think of the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security merged into one with overall police powers) , Charles Clarke, refusing to amend current British law which allows -- "property owners to use only 'reasonable' force against burglars".

The combination of the unarmed police officer story and Mr. Clarke's refusal to tilt the balance to home owners in the case of breaking and entering situations leaves me concerned for the safety of my British friends. To counter this apparent imbalance in the law the same newspaper I mentioned here launched a reader campaign called;

"The Right to Fight Back" -- sorry no website exists just a "snail mail" address at:

Right to Fight Back
Sunday Telegraph
1 Canada Square
Canary Wharf
London E14 5DT UK

This campaign was launched due to the death of Robert Symonds, a London teacher killed in HIS HOME by a burglar last October.

I have consistently argued against the expansion of the police state but since there are plenty of "bad people" out there shouldn't we some obvious questions be posed?

1.) If the UK's 999 system knew the Bradford travel agency robbery included armed bandits shouldn't the two unarmed officers stayed at a safe distance until some firepower arrived?

2.) If your home is your "castle" should you be required to be "reasonable" with intruders set on stealing your possessions and/or harming your family?

3.) Do you know of any American newspapers currently or willing to launch citizen campaigns such as the "Right to Fight Back" ?

4.) Since the UK is the number one destination for American ex-pat workers and students in the world (the last time I read statistics on this about a year ago) shouldn't the US Department of State apply some diplomatic advice to Mr. Clarke's office regarding his definition of "reasonable" ?

Defend but don't offend?



Helen said...

The issue is not about routine arming the police - a very dangerous concept in a country where everyone else is being steadily disarmed. I say routine, as, of course, we do have a large number of armed police around. The issue is the general incompetence of the police structures we have in the UK at the moment, as discussed with a good deal of local knowledge:

jdsqrd said...

What surprises me is that the apparent speed at which the constables arrived at the scene. Had that been here in the states, the undermanned police department would not have had a black and white on the scene until well after the bandits had departed with whatever travel brochures were sitting next to the credit card reader. When weapons are taken from the honest citizens only the crooks and the outnumbered police can feel safe...

Helen said...

I think you should read that posting on EUReferendum. It will tell you what really happened. There was a lot of money there because the small Asian travel agents in Bradford and other northern cities are conduits for money sent back to families in India and Pakistan. That is why there was a similar raid three years ago on a travel agent nearby when a man who gave the gang chase was killed. That is why the police should have taken the special security call seriously enough not to send two rookie police officers.

jdsqrd said...

You focus on an extraneous point: the amount stolen is irrelevant. My point(s) being that the response time for the unarmed bobbies was amazingly fast compared to here in my part of the world and that had it been possible for the store owners to protect themselves rather than being forced to rely upon others the outcome may have been different.